Leather: Vests

Besides chaps, a vest is the next most important piece of leather gear to have. Vests are versatile, simple, and add an enhancement for the Leatherman’s overall visual image.

Here is the snippet from my Complete Guide to Leather Gear about vests:

A good leather vest is a fundamental leather item that you should own. There are plenty of styles to choose from, but your best bet here is to get a leather “bar” vest. However, if your figure is more “bearish” like mine, you may do better with a “biker” vest. If you join a club, a biker vest is easier to put patches and run pins on than a bar vest (there’s more room.)

Features to look for:

Style: A leather bar vest is a simple, masculine design, meant to show your chest. A good bar vest will typically cost US$75-$100. You want to make sure the fit is tight. It should not hang over your chest, but rather to the sides of it.

Other Vests: A biker vest looks like a standard biker jacket without sleeves. Biker vests should hang over your shoulders and not pucker around the sides. Many are adjustable using side laces. If you want to show a little of your chest, consider getting a smaller vest but also vest extenders, which allow the vest to be open but still held across your front. You really don’t want to wear a biker vest snapped completely closed. It just doesn’t look right unless you’re actually on a motorcycle.

Over the years, I have seen many different types of vests. What works best for one person may be different for another guy. A bar vest without a shirt looks better on a man with a well-developed chest. Biker vests are usually always worn with a shirt. I wear mine over my long-sleeved leather shirt sometimes, too.

Generally, vests should be worn open, casually draped over the chest. However, if you wear a vest for a functional purpose such as to provide warmth while riding a motorcycle, make sure it fits you well so when you close it, it does not pucker around the arm openings. Alternatively, a vest that looks good across your chest but would look weird closed may be held together by vest extenders, which are small chains or thick leather strips that attach to snaps. I realized while writing this post that I do not have a good picture of one of my vests with extenders, so that’s next on my list to update.

Tomorrow’s post gets into jackets, the next essential for a Leatherman.